The Happy Child

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Over the past four months, the task of writing has felt like a chore–much like the dishes that are stacked in my sink, waiting to be scoured. I haven’t felt like giving my craft the much-needed attention I usually do, mostly because I’ve been teaching young men and women how to write. Funny how teaching the mechanics of writing can suck the will to write away. Or, how being completely overwhelmed with two jobs, maintaining a home, and being a mom lessens the amount of time left in a day. Somehow I survived, and school ended for the semester. But, my will to write was still in a deep hiatus.

The other day, however, I stumbled across an article from Hot Moms Club, entitled, “Why Kids Who ‘Talk Back’ Become Happier, More Successful Adults.” In the article (which I clicked on, for some unknown reason), the author states that children who are taught how to argue with their parents–or with anyone of authority, like bosses, teachers, and cashiers in the grocery line) become more well-adjusted individuals.

People who flaunt authority are happier, and therefore more successful.

Um.

Uh.

So, … no. That’s not how that works. Arguing and happiness are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Seeing as I’ve never seen a happy argument, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s an oxymoron. Happy people don’t tend to knee-jerk into arguments. Successful people probably shouldn’t argue first, and smile later, either. People do not argue because they are happy; they argue because they disagree, and because they are upset–oftentimes angry.

Anger doesn’t make a person happy.

It makes them angry.

Which led me to think about truly happy children. So, of course, I began thinking about Tiny Tot. My child, my wonderful green-eyed boy, is one of the happiest children I know. Over the years, I have lost count of the amount of people who marvel at the amount of happiness my child exudes. People cannot help but smile and fall in love with his enthusiasm at life. It’s a wonderful thing, my child’s happiness. If I were a cocky parent, I would claim that I, and I alone, created his happiness, his zest, and overall buoyant demeanor at life.

Oh, wait. I am a cocky person. Plus, I’m overly opinionated about everything, and–let’s face it–I’m also inherently egocentric. Why else did I create a blog to talk about myself with the ruse of it being about Life with Tiny.

I mean … .

Creating a happy child has a lot to do with parenting tactics. Not just in the form of discipline and respect, but in everyday activities. Discipline and respect do not create unhappy children, unlike the article’s assertions. If I formulated a pie chart, happy children, who then grow into happy, successful adults, are formed through many means, discipline and respect for authority being a small percentage in a very large pie chart.

No, I’m not going to create a pie chart, so don’t go looking for one.

However, fair warning: I am about to go full-out hippie for a minute. Unhappy children arise from stifled self-expression. Not in the form of argument, but in the way the parents manage their ability to discover life. Children need very little to be happy, but they do need to understand societal norms and personal boundaries while being happy.

The first thing children need is the ability to know what happiness feels like. Smiling, laughing, giggling until tears stream down their face, telling silly jokes, and acting goofy are all simple ways in which happiness is felt throughout the day. Children need to be allowed to feel the silly, and act the crazy. They also need to see their parents be the silly and crazy. We might be old farts, but we should come alive through the spirit of our children. Be goofy; be silly.

Show children they can be and act that way, too.

The next thing children need to be happy is the ability to be loud. Not in church, and not during a movie–this is where those pesky rules and discipline strategies come into play. They should be allowed to stomp through the park like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, bang on pots and pans in the kitchen, play with every last noisy toy in the house, and howl like a wolf at the moon walking through a parking lot. It’s the unhappy children who aren’t allowed to be creatively expressive. Our job, as parents, is to foster the loud.

Children also need to be able to explore their surroundings and touch things. This is my biggest parental downfall–allowing Tiny Tot to touch strange surfaces. Gag. But, children learn through all five senses, and they need to learn the joy of using a finger to eat peanut butter out of the jar, and then experience a carefree moment where Mom or Dad joins in. Just discourage touching dog poop, and all will be fine.

The last thing children need is praise. Yes, I said it: praise. Children need encouragement, they need smiles, they need gratification. They need to be abundantly praised, told they did a great job, and that Mommy or Daddy is so proud of them. They need to know that a parent is their personal cheerleader. What we are teaching with praise is the feeling that comes from hearing that something they did was considered amazing, even if it’s drawing a purple tree.

A happy child becomes happy by being allowed to discover the wonder of the world around them, and by allowing positive things to impact their outlook on life. It is not “talking back,” “speaking out,” or arguing that teaches a person to be happy or successful. Happiness comes from the willingness to allow both enthusiasm and creativity into their world, because that teaches our children to see the good in difficult situations, to find the funny in hard times, and to look for the ability of success, even when success takes hard work and perseverance.

Let’s create truly happy children.

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No comments posted on December 30, 2015 in Opinions, Winging It, Mom Style

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